If you are determined to maintain the illusion that I am a sweet and good-tempered person, committed to the well-being of all living things, possibly you should skip the rest of this post. Because I have been putting together a bookshelf.
Here's the thing: the official category of these bookshelves is "cheapass." I know this. We could theoretically afford gorgeous built-in bookshelves, but we would rather buy the cheap ones and use the remaining funds to, say, visit friends and relations, buy books, eat well, etc. So. These bookcases are not high-quality, and we knew that going in. They are wooden in the same sense that Velveeta is cheese, which is to say, not at all, but sort of inspired by the same general idea.
But here is what has changed in the three and a half years since we moved here: the cheapass bookshelf manufacturers have started placing a high priority on allowing people to build things without using a hammer or a screwdriver.
Here's my suggestion for people who want to build things without using a hammer or a screwdriver: go buy one of each. Seriously, people. It's not like a hammer and a pair of screwdrivers is going to set you back all that much -- you don't even need the really high-quality ergonomic grip whatsits. What you need is metal shaped to bang on things and metal shaped to make fiddly little things go round and round. That's it. Not hard. I would venture to say that most non-disabled adults will actually find uses for such things again, if they buy them.
But no, we couldn't make people buy a hammer and a screwdriver just because they want to build a bookshelf. How elitist that would be!* So instead they include all sorts of snap-in plastic parts that not only do not require a hammer and a screwdriver but in fact would be actively unsafe to use with them. Great.
But let's circle back to the central fact about these bookshelves: they are cheapass. What this means is that the quality-control for part alignment is not very good. In the old kind, this was not so much a problem: they told you to tack the cardboard backing on the back of the bookshelf with nails, and they even gave you little suggested marks on the back of the cardboard in case you were too damn dumb to figure out where to put nails. But if it didn't line up exactly with the bookshelf, you could put the nails in slightly different spots and correct for the problem. With little snap-in plastic things that have to go through the holes in the cardboard to the holes in the particle-board, a misalignment of a quarter of an inch on one side of the backing means some serious difficulty getting the little things to snap in. But some genius has decided this is better, because then nobody has to own a hammer, unless they want to do anything else around the house at all ever.
So this was a learning experience. Specifically, I learned that writing stories from Carter Hall's perspective gives me a foul-mouthed hockey player lurking under the surface, ready to help with household chores at a moment's notice. Also I learned how many uncomplimentary compound nouns I can construct using suffixes like -head and -nut and -cheese and even, when I was thinking in a much older voice than Carter Hall's, -britches. (Answer: lots.)
One down. Four to go. Three of them are of a different brand, so I may have a whole different set of gripes at that point. Lucky you.
*Hi, my name is mrissa, and I'll be your columbina for the afternoon....